The wave of protests around the country against the non-indictments for police responsible for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner have drawn a variety of responses from musicians around the world, including Killer Mike and J. Cole. Now Yasiin Bey—formerly known as Mos Def—has added his voice to the choir, releasing two short speeches on the blog Stop Being Famous.
Bey’s tone remains solemn as he describes a nation in chaos, long simmering tensions brought suddenly to light through acts of violence. His message is ultimately hopeful:
“It is the best of times, it is the worst of times,” he intones. “It is an opportunity for necessary change. Positive change. It’s not necessarily convenient or comfortable, as it is with any period of growth.”
Bey argues that turmoil is a crucial part of society’s journey towards equality.
"In order for an arrow to fly, the bow has to be drawn back, with some pressure involved,” he adds. “I think we're all feeling that pressure."
At the end of the speech, he quotes an excerpt of a poem by Max Ehrmann, called “The Desiderata”:
"Speak your truth quietly and clearly
and listen to others
even the dull and the ignorant
they too have their story
Avoid loud and aggressive persons
they are vexations to the spirit
If you compare yourself with others
you may become vain or bitter
for always there will be persons greater or lesser than yourself."
Stream both inspiring speeches in full, below.